FAIRMONT ST ANDREWS, FIFE, SCOTLAND

Posted in Projects on 2 May, 2017

Originally opened in 2001, this luxury resort in the east of Scotland has had all its public areas refurbished by renowned design studio RPW Design. Tonje Odegard from SPACE reports on the fantastic makeover…

Finished in September 2016, the multi-million pound revamp of this iconic five-star resort has transformed the hotel into a bold and sophisticated destination.

Housing 212 guestrooms (17 of them suites), two on-site manor houses, an impressive spa complex with twelve Scottish-themed treatment rooms, and five spectacular dining outlets, the hotel is situated on the east coast of Scotland, surrounded by 520 acres of beautiful and calming landscape.

Having received a number of noteworthy accolades and awards, the resort has two championship golf courses and has hosted major political events, such as the Northern Ireland peace talks and a G20 Summit. Fairmont St Andrews has an identity and heritage that needed to be considered when renovating, and by extensively refreshing the interiors, RPW has succeeded in reinstating and reinforcing that identity.

The creative process behind RPW Design’s interiors was influenced by the history and landscapes of St Andrews, with upholstery and fabrics selected from revered Scottish companies, such as Andrew Muirhead and Bute Fabrics. The richly textured fabric selection was clearly influenced by the area’s scenery.

Atrium, lounge and restaurant

The hotel’s spacious atrium has been completely redesigned and now houses the renovated restaurant. Observing the scale of the atrium with its full-height windows on one side, overlooking the North Sea coast, RPW knew this would be the most challenging area in the hotel to work on.

To transform this voluminous area into a more inviting and human-scaled space, a mixture of natural hued finishes was introduced to the surfaces, including bespoke carpets, timber floors of different patterns and a rich, earthy, green wall colour. The introduction of eclectic furniture styles and arched decorative lamps has created a softer, more inviting atmosphere. The result is overwhelming, with the area feeling grand and majestic while at the same time having a cosy space for guests. By concentrating on smaller areas within the atrium, such as the restaurant, library and lounge areas, RPW was able to create a sense of intimacy.

Inspiration for the design concept was drawn from the rich and varied landscape surrounding the property. The neighbouring fishing villages were also a great starting point for designing textures, patterns and themes within carpets and artwork. This is apparent in the fish-net-patterned carpets in sea-colours, completed with a salt-washed effect.

Heading through to the new restaurant, Squire, from the atrium, dramatic lighting and refined materials with a colour scheme of pine and sage greens and hints of gold create a sense of quality throughout the space. This gives the restaurant its own identity while still being part of the large entrance space of the atrium. A mix of finishes includes timber floors, seascape-inspired carpet designs, bronze antique mirrors on the walls and wall drapery.

Mellow gold velvet wall drapes hang above the banquettes and bespoke printed screens with seaweed designs growing up from the base of the drape in an organic fashion, both softening the architecture of the space and providing a sense of intimacy. In addition to these, the bespoke restaurant curtain screens and fabric design is based on the moving sand dune grasses at West Sands beach in St Andrews, dividing the restaurant from the breakfast buffet area in the evenings.

The atrium also houses the refurbishment’s most remarkable and impressive element – the incredible, swirling ceiling sculpture that sweeps through the entire 60m length of the atrium. Brought to life by the light from giant ceiling spotlights on the sides, it really is the focal point of this whole renovation. With the sculpture’s ability to change colour, the space’s mood can be changed by a touch of a button.

The sculpture, named ‘Zephyr’, which means ‘a soft gentle breeze’ was created by London-based designer George Singer to imitate the water movements of the North Sea. He was asked by RPW to create a sculpture that would celebrate the beauty and energy of St Andrews Bay.

“Zephyr is designed to reflect the crashing waves, the flocks of starlings, the long wind-blown grasses, the spring blossom, the shoals of fish, the rolling hills, the clouds, and the sheer energy, beauty and dynamism of the east coast of Scotland,” explained Singer.

After designing the ‘Butterfly’ installation at the Radison Blu Hotel in Dubai, Singer learnt first-hand how difficult it is to design a truly organic form by eye. He therefore collaborated with Onformative, a Berlin-based computer code-writing company, who built the app Singer used to create the sculpture. Onformative were able to create organic, animated forms using three-dimensional, simulated fluid dynamics. They also built a computer-based tool that could help navigate through the form row-by-row and string-by-string.

Having eight designers working alongside him, it took Singer three months to prepare the sculpture and three weeks of twelve-hour shifts to install it. Singer said he enjoyed every minute of it. “Honestly, I was in heaven the whole time.”

Singer used self-designed steel disks that are extremely thin and capable of being silk-screen printed, which gave numerous advantages – they are very light, no dust can settle and they can be coloured to any shade RPW wanted.

“Sometimes when you’re given a design brief, you just snigger and walk off,” said Singer. “Other times, you want to just dive straight in. My experience following the brief from RPW was the latter.”

Lobby, reception and bar 

RPW’s aim was to create a more inviting and warm lobby area, which was achieved by removing the dividing wall between the reception and bar area, and creating a new coffee bar. The copper bar draws people into the space and the high table encourages communal working or drinking in the lobby area. A gentle mix of timber flooring and carpet, with designs based on aerial views of the beautiful River Tay estuaries, generate a warmth and definition to the different seating areas. As well as a revised layout, Kittock’s Den Bar has drawn on natural elements found in the nearby River Tay estuaries and surrounding fishing villages, to create a comforting atmosphere for drinking and dining.

A pair of contemporary velvet wall hangings, inspired by the roaming outdoors, have been developed and printed by Timorous Beasties, the avant-garde Scottish artistic fabric and textile designers. These have been installed in the double-heighted reception space to give a sense of locality and authenticity as soon as guests enter the hotel, and were conceived as a contemporary take on old Scottish castle tapestries. A natural colour palette, layered earthy textures and a diverse furniture collection form a relaxed and welcoming environment in the lounge. It also links the interior with the views of the coastal landscape beyond the floor-to-ceiling window at the north end of the atrium.

Fairmont St Andrews has been restored back to the elegant, beautiful and grand luxury hotel that it is, and one that celebrates its heritage and local surrounding. The breathtaking Zephyr sculpture in the atrium really brings the whole thing together, making the hotel a destination in itself. Not only does the hotel have extreme beauty, it has soul, character and a story to tell.

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